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Hamas television, which was criticized for a Mickey Mouse-like character named Farfur who spouted anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish nostrums at children, has replaced the mouse with a bee named Nahoul, who says he is Farfur's cousin. Farfur was beaten to death by an Israeli who wanted his land on the previous episode of the children's show Tomorrow's Pioneers. Nahoul the Bee says: "I want to continue on the path of Farfur, the path of Islam is the solution. The path of heroism, the path of martyrdom, the path of jihad warriors. In the name of Farfur," the bee says, "we shall take revenge on the enemies of Allah, the murderers of the prophets, the murderers of innocent children, until Al-Aksa will be liberated from their filth."
- The New York Times, July 17
MEMO FROM: Mahmoud Aziz, director of children's programming, Hamas Al-Quds Television
TO: Abdel al-Yousef, station director, Hamas Al-Quds Television
Ahalan w'sahalan, Abdel. I have some bad news, habibi. The new Nielson ratings are in, and Nahoul the Bee is a flop. Among viewers aged three-10, Nahoul came in dead last in its time slot - trailing even Koran Verse of the Day and our new docu-drama, Sheikh Yassin - The Early Years. Even worse, the rate of child-shahid volunteerism has dropped dramatically; only six kids signed up last week for the the Pee-Wee Suicide Bombers League! (Yes, I know, we can bemoan the apathetic state of today's Palestinian youth from now till Ramadan, but at the end of the day it's you and I who will lose our jobs - and much more - if we can't inspire them to take the path of jihad.)
Unfortunately, those who said we were a little hasty in killing off Farfur the Mouse proved correct. Of course, they had no idea the kind of pressure we were under. It's one thing to murder Israelis, something you can always find someone to excuse you for doing. But once you piss off Disney (and their lawyers) and start messing around with their most-beloved icon, you're entering a world of hurt.
AS FOR Nahoul, he's just not catching on. Our focus-group surveys are showing that kids just can't identify with a bee - they find it too scary and aggressive, especially those who have been stung by real bees. As you know, we tried to build up some sympathy for Nahoul by having that evil Israeli who killed Farfur make a return appearance and rough up Nahoul a little bit; unfortunately, a majority of the kids we surveyed felt the Israeli was justified in trying to get rid of a dangerous pest, even one who wants to liberate Al-Quds.
I guess we blew it; I knew we should have gone for a more innocuous animal, like the proposal we got for "Shahar, the Martyr Sloth." If we just weren't so scared of those bastards at Disney, I'd recommend we just bring Farfur back, or maybe his twin brother, Furfar.
Don't despair though, Abdel my brother, as I have a few good ideas for a Nahoul replacement. Clearly, one of the reasons Farfur worked so well was that he was already familiar to a lot of kids because of the Mickey resemblance; it would be wise then for us to again adapt a famous children's television character in a way suitable to our aims. Here are some of our suggestions for a new host for Tomorrow's Pioneers:
Jiha-Dora the Explorer - Jiha-Dora is a little Palestinian girl who every program must go on a special quest while wearing her magic explosive Backpack, a character in itself which helps her find her way though various obstacles to a selected target area (an Israeli bus, schoolyard or pizza parlor). Jiha-Dora also has a cute monkey sidekick, Boots Rantisi, who helps her avoid the traps laid for her along the way by the crafty fox Zionist Land-Swiper, and she also has two loving parents, Umm Jiha-Dora and Abu Jiha-Dora, to encourage her in following the path to martyrdom.
What I especially like about this concept is that Jiha-Dora is an interactive character; at certain points in the program, she turns to the audience and asks things like: "Kids, to avoid the Israeli army patrol and blow myself up in the Zionist schoolyard, should I fly over the security fence or run by the checkpoint?"
The viewers than shout out the right answer, and Jiha-Dora responds: "Right kids; help me put a flying star in the pocket of my explosive Backpack, and together we'll kill dozens of the Zionist infidels!"
At the end of each program, Jiha-Dora succeeds in her mission, proudly becomes one of the 70 virgins who have the honor of greeting boy martyrs in heaven, and is then resurrected at the beginning of each new episode.
This is a great concept, a genuine family show that reinforces our Hamas Islamic values, while at the same time has real potential for franchise marketing - just think of the business we'll do in magic explosive Backpacks!
The only problem with Jiha-Dora might be that she appeals much more to young girls than boys. While the female shahid market is a growing one, we certainly don't want to lose touch with our male martyr base. In that case, if you want something a little more irreverent that boys will also like, we can go with Sponge-Bob Bomb-Belt. This is a really cute character with an underwater theme, and what's good about making the bomber a sponge is that he can blow himself up at the end of each program, but each little piece that remains can grow up to become a martyr by the time of the next episode. It also has a very catchy theme song: "Sponge-Bob Bomb-belt, Sponge-Bob Bomb-Beltâ€¦ Sponge-Bob! Bomb-Belt!"
I admit, Abdel, that we might also have some copyright issues with these characters. But let's face it, we're not talking Mickey Mouse here. Allah be praised, once we get Jiha-Dora and Sponge-Bob Bomb-Belt on Tomorrow's Pioneers, the kids will quickly forget about Farfur and that damn bee Nahoul.
Our only problem, brother Abdel, will be that if we are too successful in inspiring the children on the path to jihad, we will also be losing viewers every week - although not as many as the Israelis that will also be lost, heh heh heh.
At least you and I have the satisfaction that only comes from working with children - and making martyrs of them, Allah be praised.
The writer is communications director of the Jerusalem office of The Israel Project. www.theisraelproject.org